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Rogue Trader

Tuesday, 5 April 2005 | link | tag | / Movies
I've just watched the 1999 film, Rogue Trader Staring Ewan McGregor and Anna Friel. Rogue Trader explains the story of Nick Leeson, a british investments trader who single-handedly caused the collapse of the Barings Bank - the UK's oldest investment banking firm.

The movie had previously escaped my attention. Working in IT for a large investment bank, in particular, a clearing house, I've been interested in movies about the industry I work in for ages, such as Boiler Room (2000) staring Vin Diesel and Wall Street (1987), staring Michael Douglas and Charlie Sheen.

The movie dipicts the City of Singapore, largely as it is now. In particular the city-scape which has barely changed. Notable landmarks include semi-famous joints such as Harry's Bar on Boat Quay where Nick Leeson was arrested for indecent exposure (He got drunk and mooned some local ladies. The police take a dim view of that sort of thing). It was interesting to see familiar sights prior to the cities recent binge on land reclaimation projects that are gradually making Singapore bigger (not nessesarily better) than before.

Of particular interest to me was the trading floor at the (then) Simex exchange, now the SGX. I've been lucky enough to visit the SGX trading floor during trading, sadly it wasn't as dynamic and bustling as the movie shows, but very close. You aren't allowed in without covered boots. There is a good reason.

Nick Leeson got himself into trouble trading futures and options straddles on the Nikkei 225. The open outcry market, in particular, the Nikkei pit is slowly dying in favour of electronic trading. I'm glad I got to see it before it goes. I'm can't help but think I'm playing a part in its demise... I'm sure Singapore hasn't forgotten Nick.